RubyRide Founder Jeffrey Ericson cuts the ribbon outside the rideshare service's new office space at 607 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks on Aug. 10.
By Elizabeth Perry
RubyRide is planning a return to the Sto-Rox area.
Despite a ribbon cutting in August at the new storefront on Chartiers Avenue, at this time the local ride-sharing service is in “pre-launch” and not able to provide residents with rides, according to Community Director Mary Jane Edwards.
RubyRide was launched as a ride service for low-income people and had been operational pre-pandemic, subsidized with grants from the Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation and the PNC Foundation, but public health mandates sank the service.
“Rideshare was a tricky thing to do with all the Covid restrictions,” Edwards said.
Edwards said she and the four-person team developing the service have been meeting with local stakeholders like the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation, area school districts, and Focus on Renewal in order to determine needs in the area. At this time “Zone 1” will cover McKees Rocks, Stowe and a portion of Kennedy Township.
When initially launched, the service cost $30 for unlimited local rides. Founder Jeff Ericson said the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation subsidized the cost difference. Without a grant subsidy, the cost of the “Flexplan” now starts at $89. For the “Priority Plan,” people would pay $199 a month and for a “Family Plan” it starts at $299 a month. Edwards said RubyRide is looking for grants to try and bring those monthly fees down again. More than 40% of Stowe and McKees Rocks residents say they lack access to a car.
“For a lot of folks, it’s still a lot of money,” Ericson, who currently lives in Pointe Breeze, said.
Ericson started the company in Arizona in 2009, with a price of $200 for the service. There he had partnerships with healthcare organizations and municipalities to provide transportation to their workers.
RubyRide is partnering with some local companies to create a “work on time” program so that employees can get rides to work, Ericson said, but he said it was too soon to name those businesses.
The company currently has four full-time employees and two App developers. RubyRide is named for Dorothy’s Ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” because she was able to get home with just three heel clicks. Edwards said their app, when operational, will be just as easy.
As an architect, the goal was stated via their Yelp description: “Ericson wanted to bridge the transportation gap by cutting down on the need to create and maintain wasteful parking lots, as well as reduce the time spent in traffic and improve air quality, but he knew it had to be done right. In late 2009, RubyRide was conceptualized and in late 2013 began servicing customers in Downtown Phoenix.”
The company no longer operates in Phoenix, Ericson said. He founded the company to try and give people “freedom and access to using a car without having one.”
RubyRide is seeking drivers at this time, and Ericson said the going rate is $15 per hour, with additional reimbursement for gas and wear on the employee's vehicle. Drivers must pass a background check. Edwards is confident the service will be operational by the fall.
“It’s a great season to be part of RubyRide,” Edwards said.
For more information about when the service may be up and running, or about becoming a driver for the company, go to rubyride.com.